brendan fraser's the mummy franchise is obviously the assailing target for movie snobs, and it's been nominated by razzie award already. but surprisingly, roger ebert gives it praise and affirms that it's the best among the series. "the mummy: tomb of the dragon emperor" is certainly reminiscent of the old hollywood's interpretation of the inscrutable orient which i refer in a positively cheer of camp! (again.) it is permeated with cheese but definitely fun.
one amazing item is that this flick has actually some base of authentic chinese history of the first emperor who unifies the nation and is eager to seek the secret of immortal life since he dreams of world-domination. it IS true. and he did build a mighty grave with millions of soldiers to await his promising future to come. it is an intriguing premise to utilize that to associate with the mummy mythology.
but in the cinematic version, the emperor died of the sorceress' curse becuz he doublecrosses her by murdering her lover. then he and his army turns into statues.
also in the 1940s, brendan frasher's son raids the emperor's grave, then some royalty-crazed milirary man schemes to use his discoveries to ressurect the emperor. later frasher and his wife happen to deliver one secred gold egg (which also happens to be the key to unlock his curse) to shanghai. then the egg is robbed so the emperor lives! surely he's gonna mess around the world and shake it upon his palm!
there're several goofs in it, especially its casting. first of all, it is inappropriate for brendan frasher to be the father of a son who looks like his brother and the husband of a wife who looks older than him. second of all, there're times those chinese actors should have talked chinese to each other in some intimate scenes with subtitles but they forget. highly un-natural. third of all, luke ford is absolutely lame as frasher's son, and his chinese stinks! there's no word he utters is recognizable, and the way he flaunts it sucks. and also, he has the worst conversations of interracial flirtations in the film history. "oh, i like guns, but you like knives, so you're not my type" then they kiss?! forth of all, the incarnation of the emperor is apparently an oriental dragon, but the cgi simulates the mid-century flame-spitting dragon.
"tomb of dragon emperor" has every cliche of yellow face stereotype in vintage hollywood times, such as the orient as the villain, dragon-robed chic as the sexually compliant love interest to feast the western hero despite her seeming facade of kung-fu vixen ,and of course the western interference to maintain a better world without eastern egomaniac depotism. but the humorous taunting of brendan frasher and john hannah makes it highly watchable. man fights in chinese battlefield, then he tries to clarify his friendly stance by "could you speak english?" then he starts to shout a name of the sorceress awkwardly to dodge the hostility. this flick has its drawbacks but still a feasible banquet of imaginary journey to the orient with its boyish mischievousness.
roger ebert puts it in a better way:
""Now why did I like this movie? It was just plain dumb fun, is why. It is absurd and preposterous, and proud of it. The heroes maintain their ability to think of banal cliches even in the most strenuous situations. Brendan Fraser continues to play Rick as if he is taking a ride at the Universal Studios Tour""